Sunday, March 29, 2015

Audience Relevance: Who was the intended audience of the New Testament?

What did the close of the age mean to the first century readers of the New Testament? Were they expecting the end of the world or was it something different? In order to examine this we have to look at what the first century, second temple Jew would have understood end of the age to mean. We are in luck thanks to the dead sea scrolls.

The King James Problem:
The KJV of the bible is very good in most cases but not when it comes to eschatology in the gospels. The KJV renders aion world in Matthew 13:39 et. al. passages and that is just a bad translation. Aion in the Greek is age. So then, Matthew 13:39 speaks of the end or the close of the age and not the end of the world. It is not the end of the space time continuum for certain. That is not what was meant by the first century, second temple Jews. And yet, the recipients of the messages recorded in the gospels were solely to first century, second temple Jews. While it is very likely that some were written for congregations that were primarily Gentiles, the words recorded told of events that happened to first century, second temple Jews. In other words, the intended audience of the words spoken by Jesus, John the Baptist and others were strictly first century, second temple Jews.

Now that we have solved the King James problem, let's look at its implications. That means that the intended audience of the New Testament writings was those in the first century while the second temple still stood. The best place to understand their thinking on the matter is to look at the community who wrote/copied the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are divided into three types of documents. First was their copies of the scripture. They spent much of their time copying the scripture. Secondly, they wrote about their interpretation of the scripture, especially the Prophets and most especially Isaiah. And thirdly, they wrote about the rules for their community. Because of this, we can get a very good idea of what they thought about many things and one of the main things they were concerned with was eschatology. Therefore, the meaning of the end of the age was made quite clear in their writings. They often referred to it as the end of the evil age and thus, the beginning of a better age to come. They did not refer to the end of the planet and a new existence in heaven. While they were expecting a battle of Armageddon, they were not expecting the end of the planet.

Now, when you read carefully the pages of the New Testament you see that the beliefs of the Christian communities were very similar to that of the Essenes at Qumran which is the group responsible for creating the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is safe to say that the early Christian communities were not expecting an end of the planet. Apocalyptic language is figurative and not literal. The melting of the heavens and the earth and fire and brimstone and coming on clouds is part of the apocalyptic language and is figurative.

We really mislead our audiences when we proclaim that we are now in the last days or the eschaton. The truth is that they were. You can find that in many of the New Testament writings. As an example, Paul wrote the Corinthians telling them that they were the ones on whom the end of the ages had come, (1 Cor 10:11.)

The paradigm shift will go a long way to help us present a much more clear understanding. It will offer more hope for believers.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

An atonement theory for the paradigm shift Part I

First off, I need to lay some foundational ground work before I finalize an atonement theory. To begin with I will acknowledge that there are several atonement theories that have been presented over the history of the church. I will provide a link that will give you a concise overview of atonement theories. Please keep reading this post before you go to the link which will take you to Theopedia.

If we want to be able to present Christ to the world, especially the generations coming, we must find a coherent compelling atonement theory that gives meaning to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It should be a unified theory that makes sense of the biblical data. I think it should be a theory that will show the benefit of trusting in Christ even if one thinks that all paths lead to God.

Don't blow an aorta, I did not say that all paths lead to God, rather I said that the atonement theory should give compelling meaning, significance and benefit to ALL *even if* one believes all paths lead to God. If you believe that all paths lead to God, don't get all riled up as I am not saying that they don't. In other words, whether you do or don't I want to make clear that this atonement theory will show the benefit of believing in Jesus either way.

It is also imperative that the atonement theory acknowledges the facts that I have shown to be overwhelmingly true in this blog. For example, it must fit with the writer of Hebrews assertion that sin and unbelief are synonymous and that the original sin is unbelief. To add to this I must fit with Paul's teaching that faith is obedience and that obedience equals faith. The writer of Hebrews boldly states that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6.) Likewise, the atonement theory must square with the assertion of the problem found in Genesis chapter three. Death and the knowledge of good and evil are the source of all of humanities problems. The fear of death makes us want to survive and therefore develops greed, and the knowledge of good and evil allows us to have judgment and judge others as wrong when they do not agree with us and thereby we are provided with a reason for justification of our own actions.

Further, the atonement theory must take into consideration the fact that according to Paul et. al., we are in reality justified by our faith in the atoning force of Jesus of Nazareth and his death, burial and resurrection, and that this event has some spiritual cosmic significance. It is very important to consider Romans 5:1; "therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." According to Paul's premise, the reason for peace with God is the fact that we have been justified by faith alone.

Finally for this first post, it is important to realize that atonement is only mentioned a few times in the New Testament and the bulk of those mentions happen in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. Therefore it is safe to say that this passage is very important in our understanding of an atonement theory. Atonement and reconciliation are interchangeable. The definition of atonement includes reconciliation because the word really comes from Middle English, and is literally at-one-ment. In other words atonement is to be put at one with something and that something is God the Father. If one is made at one with the father it means they are reconciled.

Reconciliation is going to be very important as I move forward with this series. We will look at how Paul speaks of the flesh as being similar in nature to what we would now call the ego. Being in the flesh is ego-centric and atonement will specifically help with that in a mystical, spiritual, supernatural way.

A little hint for where this is going. This will closely resemble the Christus Victor atonement with a caveat. But, essentially, Christ's victory is over the ego and He accomplishes it by faith in the Father. More to come... stay tuned.
 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Christ? Does it matter?

A while back I did a series of studies entitled in search of the kingdom of God. In these, I was trying to investigate what scripture had to say about the kingdom of God. I suspected that the way in which most evangelicals use the term kingdom of God was not really accurate. The first thing that I discovered is the phrase *the kingdom of God* is used most prevalently in four gospels and Acts. I believe that it was a first century Jewish term that anticipated the reign of the Messiah. It therefore would mean to the first century hearers the kingdom of the Messiah. If we were to express that in our terms today it would be the kingdom of Christ.

Why make this distinction, kingdom of God... kingdom of Christ what is the difference? I think there is a big difference from a New Covenant view. National Israel was the kingdom of God. God was their King. When reading I Samuel chapter 8 it is clear that God considered himself king of Israel. When Israel asked for a king they really were rejecting God as their king. Yet, in God's ultimate loving grace he provided a king for them at a future time. In fact, in reading Ephesians one it is seen that God had planned to give them a Messiah from before the foundation of the world. This kingdom was God's first purpose in creation. Before humanity was created and allowed to fall, the kingdom of the Messiah, (kingdom of Christ) had already been proclaimed by the word of God. It was a reality before creation. It merely awaited the time in which it would be fulfilled in linear time.

But you say, you still have not made a case for the importance of the distinction. Well, please be patient, I will. The difference is in who the actual king is. God, Yahweh, was their king under the old covenant. They were under a kingship that was predicated on a legal-constitutional reading of scripture. But, the kingdom of God prophesied in the gospels, would in fact be the kingdom of the Messiah (the kingdom of Christ.) When Israel rejected God as king, he said via the prophet Samuel, that if they wanted him back as their king he would not hear. However, grace and mercy prevailed and it unfolded that He had already made a provision for them to have a King.

It was a mystery to them, but He would become their king again via His Son Jesus. Often, I hear someone speak of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and often I fear that they mean God the Father. Since evangelical Christianity insists on a legal constitutional reading of scripture it is very easy to understand why this is happens, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of Revelation 19:16 is the *Word of God* verse 13. So then, make no mistake, the kingdom of God is really the kingdom of the King of Kings. It is the kingdom of Christ.

Now then, when one speaks of the principals of the kingdom of God or kingdom of God principals they are speaking of the kingdom of Christ. As I have demonstrated over and over on this blog, Jesus and his first century followers taught a Jesus of Nazareth centric view of the scripture and gave them a redemptive purpose taking away the legal-constitutional reading in favor of a redemptive view.  You can not teach kingdom of God principals from an old covenant mindset. It must be one that focuses on the risen Christ Jesus.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The centrality of Christ in the New Testament

I find it interesting that so many these days speak of faith for the sake of faith. The reality is that if one is a Christian, then faith should be in Christ Jesus. I wrote an article just a short time ago that asked the question whether we should present church or Christ. The obvious answer is that we should present Jesus Christ (1Cor 2:2.) The overwhelming message of the New Testament is the superiority of Jesus of Nazareth as the prophesied anticipated Messiah. When one looks at the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, known as the faith chapter, it is somewhat easy when isolating passages within the chapter to teach on faith for the sake of faith. I think I have been guilty of not making it clear enough what the object of our faith should be. Let me state it unequivocally; it is Jesus Christ.

Let me share the short *Cliff Notes* outline of Hebrews. Chapter 1 & 2 speaks of the superiority of Christ over angels. Chapter three begins the superiority of Christ over Moses and Judaism. He is greater than Moses in chapter three, and he is the Sabbath Rest in chapter four. In other words, the Sabbath was a picture of Jesus. Chapters 5-7 begins to show the superiority of Christ's priesthood. Chapter eight tells us that the whole point of the first seven chapters was to show that the New Covenant under Christ is superior to the Old Covenant. Then chapters 9 & 10 explain that the sacrifice of Christ is superior to the temple sacrifices and the temple formed by believers in the spirit is superior to the stone and mortar temple. Notice this, the entire book of Hebrews is ALL about Jesus and nothing else. Now enters chapter 11 which is the *faith chapter.*  It begins to point out all of the Old Covenant saints who had faith. To name some in a non-all-conclusive list are Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Sampson, Gideon, Jeremiah, Daniel, the three Hebrew Boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and on and on. This interesting thing though is that their faith is not even the point of the chapter.... that's right let me state again that their faith was not the point of the Chapter. The point of the chapter is found at the very end of chapter eleven.

Heb 11:39-40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: (40) God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.


The point was that all of the hero's of faith in the Old Covenant could not be made perfect by their faith. They received a good report but were not made perfect. The reason was that they did not know exactly how the plan of redemption was going to play out. They did not know that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God would by his faith make them all perfect. So you see, in the New Covenant, it is not sufficient to merely have faith. No, one must specifically have faith in Christ. All of the blessings of the New Covenant are channeled through Jesus Christ. He is pre-eminent. He, according to this same book is the author and finisher of our faith. We rob him of his glory when we do not make him pre-eminent in all of our teaching and sermons.

This is a beginning of a series in which I will show that the church today is presenting church and not Christ and that the sole job of the church is to present Christ.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How Spiral Dynamics may explain why Jesus redefined the phrase "word of God."

I have proven over, and again that Jesus and his first century apostolic followers and writers redefined the phrase word of God from scripture to gospel. Likewise, I have shown over and again that Jesus used a solely redemptive hermeneutic that was then reinforced by the Apostle Paul and all of the first century apostolic writers. I recently was watching a video blog over on presence.tv that adds a lot of credence to the why question. In fact, the three part series on Spiral Dynamics and the biblical narrative goes a long way to explain a lot about why the evangelical church has been so invested in the legal-constitutional use of scripture and has ignored or diminished the redemptive use of scripture. The three part introduction by Doug King is very informative and I recommend that everyone views all three, perhaps more than once... I know that I have.

I don't feel the need to rehash spiral dynamics in this blog post since the series I have recommended does such a good job, providing clarity and insight. I will provide links to each of the video presentations below so that you can watch them for yourself. I would recommend that you take your time and study them. Let me just most basically state that  if you have read the bulk of my blog articles on scripture and eschatology you will surely see that the answer to why theologians have missed this for 1800 plus years, (a title of one of my blog posts from a couple of years back.) As I have written so many posts on this subject one question I have gotten over and over from many people is  as follows; why have theologians missed something so obvious for so long?

I am happy to say that the answer to that question lies in spiral dynamics. In fact, I am quite certain that this understanding will go a long way in bridging the gap between Christianity and Judaism and will likely promote more acceptance of Christ than any one single thing among Jews. It should also help eliminate anti-Semitism. If you are familiar with this blog and have read many of my posts then you will readily see the connection. If you haven't, may I suggest that you go the categories listed on the blog and look at the articles under scripture and eschatology.

Here are the three posts on presence.tv that I recommend you read:

Part One    Part Two   Part Three ....... I challenge you to take some time with this in study and let me know what you think. Don't forget to study the blog posts under scripture and eschatology also!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #20 (1/2 way there) Who Caught Jesus’ Criticism?

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #20 (1/2 way there) Who Caught Jesus’ Criticism?

Mat 23:15 “ Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”

Can I take the time to translate that into today’s language? “Your are going to have problems, and I feel sorry for you, religious teachers, for you travel all over the place trying to make a convert, and when you do, you make him/her twice the child of hell that you are by putting them in total religious bondage.” That in essence is what Jesus was saying to the scribes and Pharisees. He started out in the passage to say that the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses seat. That meant that they were speaking on behalf of God, but they were in great error.

I would warn that many religious leaders today in evangelical Christianity should take the time to read Matthew chapter 23 often. To answer the question of this post, the answer is that the only people… can I repeat that? ….THE ONLY PEOPLE, that Jesus criticized was religious leaders. Think about that; let that soak in. If you listen to most evangelical Christians today you would think that he was critical of fornicators and drunks. That was not Jesus priority. Why was that? Could it be that He knew that they were already totally alienated from God because of the fall, and that they needed to know that God was indeed a loving Father in heaven that had planned to redeem them from before the foundation of the world.

His concern was for all those who were being mistreated by religious leaders. He was upset with the greedy money changers that were ripping the people off by making them exchange their money for temple money. They traveled many miles to sacrifice and they could only sacrifice what was offered by the money changers, and the money changers charged exorbitant usury to sell the animals.  
 
All I can say is James warned about not being many teachers. He said that those who teach others, and set themselves up as religious leaders have a greater responsibility. He told his disciples that the Gentile leader’s lord over the people, and it should not be so with a disciple/apostle of Christ. There is so much ink in the gospels that religious leaders should be aware of because they would find that much of what they do does not square with the story of redemption at all. Again, to really understand the scripture, one must be very careful that they understand what part of the timeline is involved, and who a message was being spoke to. Most of the gospels were written about events under the Old Covenant before the cross. The fact is that the religious leaders under the old covenant were not to be emulated. Yet today so many religious leaders pattern themselves too closely to the old covenant leaders. Now is the time to re-examine our hermeneutic and see the transition that takes place within the pages of the New Testament. If we allow the Holy Spirit to be the guide we will arrive at very different conclusions.
 
The answer to the above question is that the only criticism that Jesus leveled was to religious leaders... pray and meditate on that!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #19 Presenting the church or presenting Christ

1Cor 2:2  “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Paul told the believers in Corinth that he determined to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. Paul always presented Christ. Paul did not present the church to the people that he evangelized; my how time has changed the message. Most churches today present church to people. They invite them to attend church instead of inviting them to know Christ. They invite them to become members of the church instead of inviting them to a relationship with the living Lord. Oh, they say they do, they speak of relationship but in reality they are more interested in control, and keeping them in a pattern of behavior that mimics those of the other members. You have to ask yourself whatever happened to just presenting Christ?

Somewhere along the line “church” became about trying to control people. To make them believe that they could not properly hear from God without specially called ministers. Spiritual abuse is so prevalent these days, and it is all in the name of control. Still Paul made the statement in the above passage from 1 Corinthians. The first century believers turned the world upside down with the attitude that Christ Jesus was paramount to the message. They taught the pristine gospel of grace. The gospel of grace leads to freedom and love for God that in turn leads to supernatural transformation, but this is not so when people are merely presented church.

The main method for control is the legal constitutional reading of scripture. The control comes from stressing the rules and regulations that are from God. Adherence to the rules and the behavior lulls the person into believing that they are secure with God based upon their actions, behavior and conformity to the norms of the group. This never really works, people instinctively know that they do not measure up to the law of God ever. They never, ever feel right before God, not really.

This seems so foreign to the first century church. The people couldn’t wait to get together, and be with each other as they shared Christ. You can read of the love and closeness everywhere in the pages of the New Testament and yet, in most churches today people cannot wait until they have some alone time. They feel burnout. They stay in the group to escape feelings of guilt and judgment. Many do have a relationship with Jesus but it is distorted by the need for the hierarchy to stay in control. They are not presented the gospel of Christ. They are not presented Christ.

God is sick of church as usual, and He has all but abandoned the building. This new millennium will find those who are awakening to the love of Christ and want to present Christ to others. Presenting Christ, means presenting the pristine gospel; it means presenting the finished work that Jesus performed; it means presenting peace with God through Christ, it means presenting the fact that we are justified by the faith of Christ Jesus. It means that once a believer one is always the righteousness of God in Christ.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #18 Justified by the faith of Christ


Gal 2:16  Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

I recently received a blog post from a friend in e-church that was highlighting the point that we are justified by the faith of Christ and not our faith. I explained that I was certain that it is Christ’s faith and not ours and that I had actually written two blog posts myself on this. Now, in this one I want to emphasize that while the newer versions read faith in Christ, they are incorrect.

Further, I want to show why it only makes sense when one sees it as the faith of Christ that justifies.  In Hebrews 11 we are told that without faith it is impossible to please the Father and in the gospels we hear announced by a voice from heaven, “this is my son in whom I am well pleased.” We must assume that if it is only possible to please the Father with faith, and if he was well pleased with Jesus, it was Jesus faith that pleased Him… it had to be!

Here is the bottom line, Adam and Eve did not believe God in the garden and their unbelief brought death and sin into the world. The fall was the result of unbelief. Therefore, it only makes sense to have the justifying act be an act of faith. Jesus believed the Father no matter what. Everything that the Father said Jesus believed. That was His perfect obedience. His perfect obedience was the obedience of faith.

Once humanity fell, there was no chance for them to have obeying faith. That is why sin was so prevalent from Adam forward. Sure, there were those who believed God such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses just to name some, but, interspersed with their occasional faith were many times of unbelief and failure. This was merely an example of the human condition, and we see that the scripture shows that all the individuals through the pages of scripture were part of the human condition. Sure, they were heros of faith but none had perfect faith. Only Jesus had perfect faith and only perfect faith is justifying faith.
 
Now church, there are some broad implications in this. It should make us radically aware that a lot of our pet doctrine is off the mark. Furthermore, when Jesus cursed the fig tree he told his disciples that it merely took the faith of the size of a grain of mustard.

God is ready to impart this mustard see faith to anyone who will simply put faith in the faith of Christ. We need to stop thinking that things are not progressing because of our behavior. We must realize that sometimes things are delayed because we won’t believe that Christ has done it all. That is so hard to believe. It only seems natural that we must add our works but, to exercise the faith of Christ we must believe the report and let that settle the matter.

This is our challenge going forward and our success and favor depends on one thing… believing Jesus finished it ALL on Calvary.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #17 The Law of Love


John 13:34-35 KJV “ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  (35)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Rom 13:8 KJV  “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Jas 2:8 KJV  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”

I get a daily prophecy in my inbox from Prophet Russ Walden over at Father’s Heart Ministries. A prophecy from August 2014 was as follows: “The Father says today that I am raising up a people to radically walk in the law of love. The only way to master the law of sowing and reaping is to ascend into the higher law, the law of love. As you ascend into the law of love you become a lord of the harvest. You will sow into a barren land and reap a bountiful harvest. You will sow in a time of famine and bring back a hundred fold return in the same season. You will see in your life the plowman overtake the reaper and the seed sown produce a harvest before it hits the ground.

This isn't fantasy says the Father. It is the no-fail zone of the love that NEVER fails. If love never fails then why would you ever step out of love. The wisdom of the world rejects this fact. This is the LOVE-FACT says the Father. It is not possible to fail when you live your life according to the law of love. So let love's sowing bring love's reaping and mount up with those wings of favor I have overshadowed you with into the new territory I have annexed you into - even the territory that lords over all small minded selfishness and causes you to think with My mind and love with My heart this day!”  ABOVE QUOTE FROM FATHERS HEART MINISTRIES PROPHET RUSS WALDEN.

This is why Romans 5:1 is so important. This is why the gospel is so important. The gospel alone is the only thing that will bring REAL LOVE for God into the heart of an individual. This is why it must be rehearsed over and over again. This is why no one can ever outgrow their need for hearing the gospel daily. This is why God has given us imputed righteousness. This is why God has separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Yes, it is to produce in us supernatural love… agape love.

This highlights the importance of Deu 28:1. This is the condition for all of the blessings following in Deu 28. One has to somehow fulfill Deu 28: 1. This is where the gospel comes into play. Jesus did fulfill Deu 28:1-2. If I rest in him alone and not any of my works, I will love him… I can’t help but love him, and when I love him as I rest in all that he accomplished on the cross, all that his blood purchased on my behalf. That alone, and NOTHING ELSE, will make me the recipient of the blessings. That is how the Amos prophecy of the plowman overtaking the reaper will come to pass.
 
Believe the gospel!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #16 Eight days of supernatural favor


I will take some time out from the doctrinal prophecies to share what I hear the Lord saying about this moment in time. These last days of January 2015 will find the angels working in the heavenly realms creating an atmosphere of favor that will carry through all of 2015. It began with the New Year but it is growing steadily, and will be established in these last 8 days of January.

To partake of this favor you only need exercise your faith. That is, believe that God was indeed in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The same kind of faith that saves you is the very faith that will bring about the favor I speak of. It is a birthright for all of those born of the spirit. To receive it you simply must acknowledge it. It is a part of the redemptive plan that was conceived in the mind of the Father before the foundation of the world. So what is the faith that one must have? It is the faith that clings to, relies on, and has settled confidence in the promises of God. This is the faith of Christ. It is the faith that Christ had that justified us and redeemed us. Jesus had absolute faith in the Father and did not waiver in faith at all. While you may think that this is tough (perhaps impossible) for you, it is supernaturally received by apprehending Christ’s faith. You must like Jacob of old grab on and not let go.

Jacob is a rich source for spiritual metaphors for this period of favor. As you hold on with supernatural faith, you will be able to have the ladder experience, and you will find heaven and earth ascending and descending so that the realms will be made one. We are heavenly dwellers, and in that we bring heaven to earth. That is the operative catalyst for the kingdom. The kingdom is heaven and earth being made one. That is the meaning of thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as in heaven.

Hear this word and believe and you will begin to operate in the supernatural favor that is available. Circumstances that would not previously change will give way to new realities of well-being. We are moving into the New Jerusalem season. I heard the Lord speak the other day in the words of a Carly Simon song about the New Jerusalem… the lyrics I was reminded of were as follows: … "coming to the edge, running on the waters, coming through the fog, my sons and daughters"… We are coming through the fog, out of the fog and into the marvelous light of God’s purpose in creation. The redemption of the creature; yes, we are moving into the season of the manifest sons and daughters of God! More to come….

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #15 Modern Apostles and Prophets


Eph 4:11-13  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  (12)  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  (13)  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:”

As I mentioned the other day, this has not truly come to fruition yet and so yes, there are still apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. But, why is it that so many of the modern apostles and prophets seem to favor the Old Covenant over the New Covenant? What I mean by that is that the apostles and prophets of today seem to favor strict adherence to the Law and emphasize God’s wrath and judgment. What has happened to the idea that God poured out his wrath on Jesus on the cross; or, what about the idea that God’s judgment was executed on Jesus?

It makes one wonder about these apostles and prophets does it not? Now, I am not unequivocally saying that I think they are false apostles and prophets. Perhaps their call is genuine, and God is busy working on their attitudes and beliefs. Maybe, they are so indoctrinated with the strong delusion, or maybe they have been taught the orthodox, evangelical way of understanding. It is undeniable that there is an army of spiritual soldiers being raised up that are seeing the freedom that Christ purchased with His blood on Calvary. Let’s face it, there is definitely a shift going on in the heavenly realms. Things are changing drastically.

Here is a thought that I would like to share. Apostles and prophets are foundational to the faith. Eph 2:20  “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;:” The corner stone is Jesus Christ. He alone is supreme, and the focus of the Father’s redemptive plan.

Hear oh apostles and prophets: If that is your calling then you are foundational to the gospel message. Everything that modern day apostles and prophets do should build the foundation of the gospel of grace! No foundation can anyone lay except that which is laid! Stop being teachers of the Law. Stop being accusers of the brethren. The way to promote faith is to teach faith in the finished work of the cross. That is the object of our faith. It is in the fact that Jesus is a justifier. He justifies sinners. That is His Job! The Pentecostal movement brought some very good things to the body of Christ, tongues, prophecy, the charismatic gifts to name just a few, but it also brought some of the most pernicious stumbling blocks, and self-made personal holiness is the worst of the worst.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days #14 Smack dab in the middle of the bible belt


The following is a repost of an article I wrote last summer. I think it is indicative of what I hear the Spirit saying to the churches. It is time to liberate the fortress!

Well, I have lived in Memphis for a year and a half now, and reflecting on my new life here I had an epiphany the other day. I was looking at 2 Corinthians 10:4 and I thought about strongholds and fortresses. If you look in NASB, a version that I particularly like, (no it is not perfect, and believe me once you understand just a little Greek, you will know that there is no such thing as a perfect translation, I digress…) Anyway, I used to wonder about the word fortress that is used in many of the new translations. I always thought that stronghold was better. Not so any longer!

Of course, the Greek word, OCHUROMATON (the last two o’s are omegas and not omicrons) means castle or fort so fortress is certainly more correct than stronghold in a literal sense. But until yesterday I preferred stronghold. Thus the epiphany; I believe for good biblical reasons that the strong man that so many folk speak of is none other than Satan himself and his stronghold/fortress is as the demon of religion. That is the strong man.

I suddenly realized that religion has a stronghold in California, a stronghold in Michigan, a stronghold in New York, but here in the Mid South… smack-dab in the middle of the bible-belt it is indeed a fortress!

Stronghold does not begin to adequately describe the hold that the demon of religion has on the bible-belt. If there was ever a place where wooden legalism, devoid  of the Spirit exists, it is here. It saddens me to see that the people of God are so oblivious to it. They seem to get excited about legalism as much as they get excited for the liberating gospel of grace.  Where is the discernment?

It is almost as if Isaiah 29:10-13 is descriptive of the state of evangelicalism in the bible-belt. NASB “For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers.  (11)  The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, "Please read this," he will say, "I cannot, for it is sealed."  (12)  Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, "Please read this." And he will say, "I cannot read."  (13)  Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,”

The Lamb has opened the sealed scroll. Jesus showed his immediate followers that the scripture was about redemption. It is the redemptive narrative and it is NOT a legal constitutional document. Not for Christ followers at least. It was a legal constitutional document for national Israel in Old Covenant times. No so today!

 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days # 13 The Papal Spirit the anti-Christ


I have written before about the strong man being the demon of religion. Here are two posts from a while back that I make that claim in. Smack dab in the middle of the bible belt and Wiping out the handwriting of commandments that was against us. Satan, the strong man makes his greatest weapon religion. Paul explains it this way; “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2Co 11:14.)” and “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2Co 11:15.)” The *spirit* of anti-Christ was already in the world according to the apostle John 1John 4:3.

What if the man of lawlessness was the Pope and the *papal spirit* as was thought by the Reformers? Let’s look at 2Th 2:3-4  “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;  (4)  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

If you do some research you will see that John of Gichala fulfilled this in the natural when he took over the temple and killed the High Priest and instated his own High Priest. You can read all about him in Josephus, The Wars of the Jews. However, we are told that in the spiritual realm, the body of Christ became the temple also. This is where the pope and the papal spirit comes into play. The pope claimed that only he could speak for God. Many of the reformers saw the pope as the anti-Christ for this reason. It is only recently that people have begun to look for a world leader to be the man of lawlessness.

Now look at the *papal spirit* that is so prevalent in churches today. The CEO Pastor, that is the covering, the only one really hearing from God, the one with all the vision and instruction is so pervasive. That individual has entered into the temple of God, wanting to be worshipped as the mouthpiece of God. This is nothing more than the demon of religion and the papal spirit rearing its ugly head. I ask you to think about it: how many pastors have you known who want to be worshiped by the people? Yes, we must consider the fact that what has passed for orthodox evangelical Christianity is really the strong delusion of 2Thess 2:11. They did not love the simple truth of the gospel that Jesus had made us all right. They wanted to add to it, and so God has turned the church over to a strong delusion so that it would believe that which is false. Of course it makes perfect sense! It is speaking loudly to your spirit right now… more to come

Monday, January 19, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days: # 12 True transformation


Rom 5:1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

Here in a nutshell is the catalyst for true and real spiritual transformation. Grace via the gospel of Christ Jesus is the source of the peace. Peace with God means the removal of all fear of God, and removal of all fear of God removes all fear of punishment. Being made right in God’s sight by faith is the love that casts out all fear (1John 4:18.)

So then, peace with God produces love for God. Once all fear is gone, and one is resting in the goodness and grace of God, amazing love for God is the result. Grace is the offer that one cannot refuse. The gospel message is really truly good news. Look at this passage from 2 Corinthians 5. It is a very concise statement of the gospel. 2Co 5:19-21 NLT  “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  (20)  So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!"  (21)  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Peace with God comes from being reconciled. This leads to a deep profound love for God.

Basking in the peace of God brings about the ability to reflect on what pleases God without fearing God. This is the source of real spiritual transformation… transformation that results in genuine loving obedience. This is almost nonexistent in today’s evangelical environment. The reason is simple. Current evangelical doctrine focuses on self-induced obedience. It focuses on self-reformation.  This is impossible to do because of the nature of our flesh. It drives us to the depths of fear and discouragement because of our failures. People who are involved in reformation secretly are miserable and devastated. The reason is that self-reformation of necessity involves legal obedience and self-righteousness. Ultimately the saint involved in this always ends up unable to really rest in Jesus and have true peace with God.

That is why peace with God is so very, very important. Peace with God eases the mind. It produces joy and love… joy with, or in spite of our circumstances... and also love for God. It actually produces the fruit of the Spirit. Peace with God produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.  How you ask? The answer is simple… it casts out all fear.

Isn’t it interesting that having faith in God’s unlimited grace does just the opposite of what most evangelicals fear. So often I hear folks say that if you teach grace people will feel confident in sinning. Isn’t that the most absurd idea you have ever heard? Actually, God’s unlimited grace produces peace with God that leads to spiritual transformation.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Forty Prophecies in Forty Days: #11 Establishing legitimate authority


Mat 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came near and said to them, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  (19)  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

It is important to observe a time line when examining scripture. It is also important to understand who the intended readers were. Let me present a gospel timeline. The gospels have a specific timeline that really makes a lot of difference in understanding what is written. The timeline can be best illustrated here by events. First you have the forerunner, John the Baptist, the last Old Covenant Prophet who’s mission was strictly to Jews under the Old Covenant. Then you have the ministry of Jesus, Prophet, Priest and King who is the Messiah of the Jews which they were expecting at that time in history according to the prophecy of scripture. All of Jesus mission on earth up until the cross event was to the Jews under the Old Covenant. Next, you have the cross event, the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, which instated the New Covenant (Matt 26:28.) Finally, in the gospels you have the risen Lord with instructions for the new covenant era, after the end of the age of the mosaic covenant. Whenever you see the end of the age in the New Testament you can rest assured that the end of the Mosaic age was meant. The end of the Mosaic age would also be the beginning of the Messianic age.

The above passage of scripture from Matthew 28 was given, spoken by Jesus after the cross event in a time when the New Covenant was instated. Prior to this, there was an authority of Moses known as *Moses Seat.* Jesus said prior to the cross event, as he was still in the Old Covenant aspect of His ministry, that the “scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses Seat so observe and do all that they say” (Matt 23:1.) During the Old Covenant, Moses was the authority. What that really meant was the Torah or Pentateuch which was written by Moses was the authority.

However, in the above passage from Matthew 28 we have Jesus stating that all AUTHORITY has been given to Him by virtue of His resurrection. There was a new power structure; authority had changed hands. Jesus authority is legitimate authority from on high. By contrast, now that He had risen and was about to be seated on the right hand of the Father in heavenly places the Pharisees had become an illegitimate authority.

ProphetRuss Walden, over at Father’s Heart Ministries has a daily email ministry called “The Father Says Today.” He has written several prophecies where he mentions illegitimate authority. What I believe he is referring to is authority that stems from the leaven of the Pharisees and the *strong delusion.* It is the illegitimate authority that the Reformation came against. It is the power of the Pope to speak for God. When people use illegitimate authority to control others it is the “Pope Spirit.* It is interesting that so many pastors and leaders today act as though they are little Popes, sovereign over their congregations. This is illegitimate authority in its most pernicious form.

As the church faces the fork in the road, this illegitimate authority will be done away with over time. The government of the kingdom of God comes from gifts… gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that have legitimate authority to represent God. They will not be OVERLORDS. They will be servant leaders! … More to come